Throughout the course of your life, a smorgasbord of musicians will touch your soul. If Local Natives happens to be one of them, consider yourself lucky. The Los Angeles-based indie band broke out in 2010 with their self-released debut album, Gorilla Manor, and continues to make music that has a way of speaking to you on a spiritual level.
Local Natives has been together for what feels like forever—Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn bonded over guitars in middle school, and eventually recruited Kelcey Ayer into their creative circle at Tesoro High School. But before the three of them met, they were all infected with the music bug. Rice vividly remembers driving around with his dad in their old Volvo Sedan and listening to The Beach Boys; Hahn recalls playing tapes on family road trips and being obsessed with "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson from the Free Willy soundtrack; Ayer grew up in an acoustic guitar-filled household in which his dad sang to him and his siblings as they fell asleep and woke up. All of these environments fostered their individual interests in music at an early age, and their passion for it just continues to grow with the band's success.
With a title like Sunlit Youth and tracks named "Past Lives" and "Fountain of Youth," it's easy to spot the theme revolving around youth. Of course, there's more to the concept than that, though. Ayer explained that the title essentially came from conversations between the members about getting older and looking back toward their youth in a nostalgic way. Throughout the album, Local Natives touch on the reality of dealing with becoming an adult in the world as it is at this current time.
"You have this nostalgia that sets in for a year for your youth a little bit, and also as you look forward. You have this looking back but also this looking forward," says Rice. He adds:
Sunlit Youth just embodied the feeling we had while making this record, which was to connect with that more hopeful optimism—and, in some ways, idealism—you have when you are younger. But it’s in this newer context of being adults and having the realization, "This is our world that we get to make, and we get to be in charge of." We have decisions we have to make, and we can actually change our world in certain ways.
Ayer echoed this idea but emphasized the power that younger generations have to influence society. As he transitions into his thirties, Ayer has come to realize that people are often the most progressive when they are younger. "With the current climate of everything that’s going on, it kind of dawned on us how everything changes with younger people," he says. "Everything changes with these people that are born without all of the preconceived notions of what life should be and what it’s supposed to be."